If you haven’t already seen it, check out the dvd which also includes an hour of behind the scenes and good commentaries by Ridley Scott and the writers Ted Griffin (Ocean’s Eleven… which I hated) and Nicholas Griffin. But don’t read on, because the rest of this is full of SPOILERS!!!
I had such a good time watching this film. Even though I have seen so many movies about con artists, this one really hooked me. I think this is the tough thing about making movies. When you attack a genre or a subject, you have to be better than what came before, or completely different. It somehow has to be fresh – and how do you manage that when films like The Grifters, Usual Suspects, House of Games and countless others are already out there?
The twist at the end of this film is one of the best ones I have ever seen in a movie. When Nicolas Cage is sweating in the hospital bed, I started thinking, “Oh shit!” And when he is in his bare butt on that rooftop in LA, coming to realize that he was the “mark”, I felt like this movie had done something so daring. See, he didn’t just lose his life savings here. Throughout the film, he is building this incredible relationship with a girl who he thinks is his 14 year old daughter. In that moment, he realizes that this sweet and unprecedented connection he had with her was also part of the con.
The commentaries were excellent and point to something really fascinating. While the writers considered the movie to be a dramatic character study, Ridley Scott always saw the film as a comedy – in the great tradition of Billy Wilder. Throughout the making of the film, these two divergent ideas kept butting heads. And I think the end result works so well because this interesting con intrigue is totally infused with humor. For me, it is one of Scott’s better films.
In closing, here’s how I rate Ridley Scott’s films that I’ve seen – from favorite to least favorite:
- Thelma & Louise (1991)
- Alien (1979)
- Blade Runner (1982)
- Matchstick Men (2003)
- Black Hawk Down (2001)
- American Gangster (2007)
- Gladiator (2000)
- Black Rain (1989)
- Legend (1985)
- Hannibal (2001)
- Someone to Watch Over Me (1987)